Co.fee, or Kofi Sefa-Boakye is an up-and-coming underground Hip Hop and Experimental artist and is part of various musical collectives with artists such as Teebs, Bahwee, Arti, amongst others. These artists have a devotion to their fixation of art and sound and collaborate and inspire each other to create new innovative art in regards to all mediums. KDVS was lucky enough to get an interview with Co.fee in regards to his musical background, influences, and original pieces.
Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with us! Tell KDVS and our listeners a little about yourself as an individual and artist.
My name is Kofi and I’m from Diamond Bar California. I’ve been making beats for about 10 years now, and I started out as a Hip-Hop producer wanting to make beats for rappers. I then got more into electronic music and making instrumental music in general. I still like working with rappers and vocalists, but I enjoy it just as much as making instrumental music now. I’ve always enjoyed different genres of music, when I was younger it was mostly underground hip hop and alternative rock, but making sample based music opened me up to a lot of different genres from around the world. Lately I’ve been listening to psychedelic music the most.
Tell us a little more about your time as a hip hop producer and your switch to electronic. What about the genre pulled you in?
Before I joined My Hollow Drum, I would usually just put a lot of beats on this page called Soundclick. A lot of hip hop producers would be on there to either sell beats or enter beat battles. I always thought the only way I would get music out was through producing for a rapper, so I would sell beats really cheap here and there or just give them out to people I knew who rapped. Really simple stuff. A lot of those beats were pretty bad looking abck on it, but it was a good learning experience. That’s how I learned how many bars are in a verse and in a chorus and how to structure a track.
Along with Soundclick I also made a Myspace account and put music up there. I kept finding artists that made really dope instrumental music and that’s how I found Teebs’ stuff, I hit him up about about collaborating on some music and we ended making quite a few tracks. He also told me about Low End Theory. I ended up going out there and meeting other friends of his that made music which is how I met all the guys in what would eventually become My Hollow Drum. I started going to Low End Theory every week around the same time MHD started so those were the two things that made me get pulled into electronic music more. I was always a big fan of Aphex twin, Prefuse, Avalanches, DJ Shadow, RJD2 and many more instrumental artists but I didn’t know anyone else who was into that type of music. It was really great to be a part of this whole community of people who are into all that. Every week at Low End, I’d get super inspired being exposed to all the new music I was hearing. Also most of the members of My Hollow Drum live pretty close to each other so we would all meet up to work on mixes and I’d hear a lot of new music from everyone sharing their vinyl collection or beats they were working on. This was when a whole new sound was coming out of LA so it was a lot of Hip Hop mixed with electronic music. I definitely embraced all these new influences and it pushed me to improve my sound.
That’s awesome! Were you aware that DJ Shadow is actually a KDVS 90.3 FM alumni?
Wow, didn’t know that! Shadow’s a god!
But going back to what you were saying: you’re a part of “My Hollow Drum”, an artist collective. What exactly is it and what kind of art do you do?
“My Hollow Drum” is a ten person collective of DJ’s and producers. We’ve been a crew for 6 years, and joining the crew influenced me wanting to get deeper into making instrumentals. I’m also apart of the HW&W label which is run by another member of My Hollow Drum, Bahwee.
Which members of My Hollow Drum have had the most influence on you?
Been heavily influenced by each member at least once in a certain period of time, but out of all the members I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with Teebs the most and traded the most music with him so naturally I’d say he’s had the biggest influence on me. Especially early on when the beat scene was starting out he knew a lot more about it and put me on to a lot producers especially ones out of Europe, who were new names at the time like Dimlite, Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Jack High (BNJMN), and Flako; all artists I still listen to today.
How do you get inspired to create music of such experimental, yet intriguing quality?
I trade a lot of music with friends So I get put on to a lot of new music from there and I get inspired from that, also from hearing a good mix. Visual art is also something that gets me inspired and pushes me to experiment and try to create my own sound.
We can imagine that creating your own sound comes with a lot of roadblocks, do you ever attempt other mediums of art, what with being in a collective filled with artists with different medium specialties?
Yes, I actually went to school for graphic design and noticed similarities between beat making and designing since you’re using software to create both. One of the main similarities I noticed was the importance of mistakes. When I make a mistake while making music, whether it’s loading the wrong sample or hitting the wrong key, actually adds a whole new element to the track and completely improves it to where I’ll end up building around the mistake. With design, sometimes a mistake can actually end up being the perfect final touch to a project. It could also lead to me learning a cool new trick within the software.
I prefer making music to designing, maybe because I have more experience with beat making and take more chances with experimenting. It would be fun to get better at not just designing but actually drawing and painting too and other mediums of visual art. I don’t really do artwork for my own music though, I only did it once for this Wu-Tang mixtape I made. My friend Matt Okeyo handles a lot of the artwork for my logos and record covers. He’s an amazing artist so it pushes me to make music that can hold up well to the artwork.
What artists do you consider an inspiration to your current sound? Did your taste in music change when your own style of music shifted?
Music I’ve been getting inspired by lately is a lot of early 90’s Hip-Hop albums from the Native Tongues movement. Those records were very animated to me and I pretty much grew up on them, so its been so much fun revisiting them. I’ve always catered more towards sample based music and Tribe, Black Sheep and De La including many more artists from that era were the best at it. Not saying I want to recreate that exact sound on those records, but put forth a similar feeling. When I got deeper into making instrumental music my music taste didn’t really change, but I embraced more influences from artists I listened to that were Alternative/left field. I didn’t really pull from those influences when I was strictly making hip hop beats.
So, what can we expect next from Co.fee?
What’s coming next is an album release this year! I’ve put out two EP’s in the past 3 years so I’m getting my debut album ready. I’ve been working on it for a while so it’ll be good to finally get it out. Also more shows later this year hopefully outside of California since I haven’t played out of the state yet. It’ll be fun to play for different crowds in different areas.
You can listen, learn, and explore Co.fee and My Hollow Drum’s music yourself at:
Interview conducted by DJ Yolo Ono (Lorraine Ye)